Egor Shestakov, director of investment and development business Sixpenny Group, on how he got started in property, his film and book picks, how he’d spend a million pounds and his number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
After school, I travelled from the UK to Latvia for an internship with LIDO, Latvia’s largest fast-food chain. While I enjoyed the work, the most challenging and exciting process was the development of a restaurant called Lido Spice in Riga. This experience led me to change my university course from hospitality to general business and management. On graduation, I secured an entry-level job in the property consultancy department at PwC in Moscow, which kickstarted my career.
What does your job entail?
Working with the Sixpenny Group team to scale up our business. My key focus is addressing the environmental challenges created by outdated stock. I plan to direct our investments into upgrading and building energy-efficient and sustainable residential and commercial property. Ultimately, I would like our company to compete with the big players in the market and make notable investments in developments that deliver positive outcomes for all stakeholders.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The diverse challenges and opportunities give me a lot to work with and keep me focused. Also, people will always need food, clothes and property, so the demand is always there for a good property product.
And what do you dislike most about it?
As an entrepreneur, I have to say the speed it takes to progress any development. All processes are time-intensive, and any new project is accounted for in years. New technologies such as blockchain will hopefully help.
What would you change about the property industry?
I would love to see more small companies like ours taking on large projects and investments. Property benefits when owner-managers are more hands-on and take an active interest in delivering to the highest standards.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Following the disruption of Covid-19, I was looking ahead to a brighter future for our fledgling business, but then the tragic conflict in Ukraine started. Although I am a UK citizen with a UK business, my Russian heritage has led to some companies and individuals refusing to work with us. It was very difficult last year and we are still seeing some discrimination. Thankfully, most people can separate the political from the personal and we are continuing to successfully build the business.
What are you most proud of in your career?
So far I would say coming back to live permanently in the UK in 2014 and starting a business from scratch here. We continue to make property investments in other countries, but the UK remains the best place to be an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Find people to learn from and seek opportunities to build a broad base of expertise and knowledge as quickly as possible. I was fortunate to work with outstanding managers and entrepreneurs in my early career, which helped me develop. I also picked up as much work as I could handle – not all of it went very far, but it was all priceless experience.
Something to watch:
I like the film Forrest Gump as it makes me appreciate how life is. The story shows so many unexpected changes that life can bring, for which we cannot prepare. As Forrest says: “Life is like a box of chocolates.” It is a feel-good film and it articulates so many important values such as love, friendship and hope.
Something to read:
I re-read a lot of books and a standout for me is Ivan Turgenev’s 1862 novel Fathers and Sons, which was one of the first Russian novels to be translated for a wider European audience. It is about the conflicts that arise from generational differences and contrasting values in a rapidly changing world. The generational gap is even more relevant in today’s world, and the book is still a great read.
If I had a million pounds?
I hate spending money, so if I had a million pounds I would have to invest it. It would probably end up in the stock and bond market, as trading is another source of income for me, as well as a passion on which I spend a lot of time. That, or I would maybe invest it in my own personal property.
Top travel destination:
My number-one travel destination is the North Pole. I would like to try to repeat my father’s expedition: a 200km ski journey across sea ice to play a tennis match on top of the world. The mission failed to make the Guinness World Record on a technicality – there was no proof of the size of the court. I would like to right this wrong and I welcome anyone who wants to join me for a doubles match.